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James R. Rogers is associate professor of political science at Texas A&M University. He also blogs at Law & Liberty.

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Collective Action and the Declaration

From Web Exclusives

Modern Americans read the Declaration of Independence too individualistically. We think of it as a revolt against high taxes and big government. While the Declaration does object to violations of “individual rights,” its understanding of how individuals exercise these rights is broader than modern Americans generally conceive of them. Take the Declaration’s best-known complaint against the King, “for imposing taxes on us without our consent.” This is not about high taxes… . Continue Reading »

The Meaning of “the Pursuit of Happiness”

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The right to “the pursuit of happiness” affirmed in the Declaration of Independence is taken these days to affirm a right to chase after whatever makes one subjectively happy. Further, the Declaration doesn’t guarantee the right to happiness, the thought usually goes, but only the right to pursue what makes you happy. But this reading of the Declaration’s “pursuit of happiness” is wrong on both scores… . Continue Reading »

More on Giving Away Life and Liberty

From First Thoughts

Over at Ethika Politika, Mattias Caro asks this in response to the discussion in my On the Square column discussion about inalienable rights: An interesting question arises if Professor Rogers has inadvertently created a problem: if certain rights are inalienable then would it not be immoral . . . . Continue Reading »

Rights You Can’t Give Away

From Web Exclusives

Most Americans know the Declaration of Independence states that God endows people with certain “unalienable” rights. When I ask my students what it means for a right to be inalienable, they respond that it means that government cannot take those rights away. I follow up that modal answer by asking whether that means that government can then take away rights that are alienable. At that point we usually need to pause to consider a bit more rigorously what it means for a right to be inalienable… . Continue Reading »

Leithart on the Eucharist

From First Thoughts

This is in the “day-late-and-a-dollar-short” category, but, on Friday, my friend Peter Leithart posted thoughts on his exclusion from the altars of several churches, most notably those of Catholic, Orthodox, and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod churches. Peter’s substantive argument . . . . Continue Reading »

Welfare State as Spiritual Temptation

From Web Exclusives

One difference between liberal Christians and conservative Christians is how much weight each places on the violence inherent in government action. While authorized for “the good,” according to St. Paul in Romans 13, the magistrate nonetheless “bears the sword.” While God-ordained, Paul paints us a realist picture of the human basis for the magistrate’s power: It is violence or, more usually, the threat of violence… . Continue Reading »

Vampire Stories and the Real Presence

From First Thoughts

Here’s a report about Danish teens using modern Vampire stories as platforms to think of spiritual matters. Given their immense popularity in the U.S., I also think that these stories can be drawn on to consider theological concepts with teens (and teens at heart) such as the Real Presence in . . . . Continue Reading »

My Thanks to Charles Colson

From Web Exclusives

I never met Charles Colson. But the ministry he started played a pivotal role in my life. I don’t know that I would ever have gotten involved in prison ministry some 20 years ago were it not for Prison Fellowship. At that time I was a grad student. I had gradually formed a desire to be involved in what I term “Matthew 25 ministries””feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned. For whatever reason, it was visiting the imprisoned that drew my attention… . Continue Reading »